In the aftermath of his town’s experiences with the disastrous Norfolk Southern train derailment, East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway responded to an angry resident questioning the federal response.
The citizen of the area beset with chemical damage asked at Wednesday’s town hall meeting, “Where is Pete Buttigieg at?”
Mayor Conaway’s response was telling. “I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine.” The mayor told the resident that Tuesday was the first time he’d heard anything from the White House since the derailment, which happened on Feb. 3.
In fact, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg did not even comment on the dire situation until Feb. 13. And Norfolk Southern executives, who were initially attending Wednesday’s town hall meeting at a local high school, backed out over safety concerns.
Erin Brockovich sounds alarm on East Palestine train derailment: 'I've never seen anything like this' https://t.co/mTJdyEm6Il
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 17, 2023
The company has reportedly rendered some financial assistance, but Mayor Conaway insists that East Palestine residence should be “made whole.”
Officials have said the area is safe and tap water is ready to drink, but many are not so sure. Some experts have doubts that the air is truly safe to breathe, and many are recommending residents decline the compensation offered by Norfolk Southern.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has also been able to garner some aid from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), but overall the federal response has frustrated the besieged area.
On Thursday he requested help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), something that should have already been readily available.
In a letter, the governor requested the CDC “send to the crash site expert medical assistance, including doctors and professionals who can evaluate and counsel” those in the area who have questions and are experiencing symptoms.
DeWine’s request for emergency assistance from FEMA was turned down due to the disaster not being “natural,” such as a flood or tornado.
Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) declared that if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator believes the water is safe to drink, “by all means, they should be willing to drink it.”
There are many who increasingly question the lack of federal response to the disaster. Ohio being a red state and the area’s staunch backing of former President Donald Trump only serves to raise questions as to lack of motivation to support the victims.